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HBO Elizabeth I series, Part 2

Oh well. After a very promising start, I'm afriad the second part, which focuses primarily on the relationship between Elizabeth and Essex, was not quite up to the standard of the first.

In its defense, it did cover most of the major events of their complicated relationship, and presented what could be a plausible interpreation of how they behaved in private.

There was one thing though that stuck in my craw and detracted from the rest of it. For some reason, the writers, who had generally made good choices about how to merge events and characters, made a very odd choice. The asserted that Essex married Frances Walsingham, the daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham, the Secretary of State, because he got her pregnant. This of course, led to Elizabethan histrionics and grim pronouncements from the Secretary about doing the right thing. This was so far off the historical mark that I found it distracting.

In actuallity, Frances was married to Sir Philip Sidney who died in battle on Leicester's expedition to the Low Countries. Essex married her shortly thereafter--and in doing so saved both her and her father from Sidney's massive debts. Sidney and Essex had been great friends, and this was generally seen as an act of gallantry.

I guess the writers, having cut Sidney out of the narrative (fine, too many characters can get confusing), were stuck with trying to explain this relationship. However, the choice they made did not sit well with me.

Also, the depiction of the Essex rebellion was not too close to fact in its depiction of the sequence of events or the degree of premeditation. However, it was pretty acurately depicted in terms of its total lameness and blundering execution.

And finally, they didn't have the last scene I wish they had. In my ideal Elizabeth bio, the Queen would be breathing her last, when Robert Cecil, her principal councillor leans over and asks here "Who shall succeed you?" and she whispers, with her last breath, "Get stuffed you loathsome hunchback!". Cecil would then calmly turn to the assembled courtiers and say, "She said James of Scotland".

Oh well. One can't have everything I guess.

All in all though, one of the best recent treatments I have seen of the subject.